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Inside the health care trenches: understanding costs, relying on ERs

Two health-care-related items crossed my field of vision today that seemed worth sharing.

The first is a video of John Green (writer, YouTube vlogger and educator) explaining why U.S. health care costs are so high. It's 7 minutes long, but so worth the time. Startling numbers in here.

Find it here

The second is a blog post by my conservative childhood friend, Dr. Edwin Leap, an emergency room physician in a small South Carolina town. He explains why ERs will continue to carry the U.S. health care load, with or without Obamacare.

It begins:

Former South Carolina Senator, and current Heritage Foundation President, Jim DeMint recently angered supporters of the Affordable Care Act by stating that uninsured patients will ‘get better healthcare just going to the emergency room,’ than they will receive through Obamacare.

That’s a sweeping assertion. However, the ACA supporters offended by Sen. DeMint need to understand the supreme irony that without America’s emergency departments and their dedicated personnel, the ACA will fall apart even if it is adequately funded and enacted.

Find the rest here

NC study tackles reducing hospital readmisions of the state's sickest and poorest

A North Carolina study on reducing costly hospital readmissions -- believed to be the largest study if its kind -- reduced hospital stays by 20 percent among the sickest and poorest patients who are most prone to using emergency rooms for their medical care.

The study involved about 800 social workers and nurses in 99 North Carolina counties who monitored discharged Medicaid patients who suffer from multiple chronic conditions. It involved patient follow-ups through home visits, phone calls, family consultations and other means to make sure the patients were taking their medicine, eating properly and getting the care they needed.

Its August publication in the August issue of Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed publication, comes at a time that the federal Medicare system has levied penalties for a second year against hospitals that have excessive readmissions.

The study demonstrates the effectiveness of such intensive follow-up efforts, even with the most challenging patients, but also shows the challenge ahead for a health care approach that requires patients to be shadowed for months because they have problems taking care of themselves.

Feds tout NC benefits of Obamacare

As the Oct. 1 enrollment date approaches for federally subsidized insurance, the White House has gone on a PR offensive to counter conservative critics about the health care law many call Obamacare.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week issued state by state updates about the law, listing the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

It's part of a broader strategy that includes the launching of a non-profit "Truth Team" at a time that Congressional Republicans are making their 40th attempt to repeal or weaken the health care law.

The North Carolina version of the federal agency's release notes that 1.3 million people, or 17 percent of the state's population, is uninsured. Many will qualify for subsidies, averaging $5,000 a year, to offset annual insurance costs.

Obamacare seminars getting underway to explain complex health care law

The season of health care seminars is getting underway as enrollment for subsidized insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act starts in just two and a half months, and many still confused about the requirements of the complex federal law.

Two upcoming seminars will be sponsored by the N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association, one to be held in Durham and the other in Charlotte.

Restaurants, along with other retailers, are a category of business that could see substantial changes under the Affordable Care Act, because such businesses typically do not provide insurance to employees and could be required to do so under the federal law.

Sign up for a free care package from Kleenex

Send a friend or family member a free care package courtesy of the Kleenex company.

Snag this freebie with the purchase of specially marked packages of Kleenex tissue. Once you register for an online account with Kleenex, all you have to do is plug in the code from inside the package.

Your friend or family member will receive: lip balm, a 1 oz. hand sanitizer, a coupon booklet, a small box of Kleenex, a purse-size pack of tissue and a card redeemable for four music downloads.

Buy several boxes and send several care packages.

Sunday deals are up! (Feb. 12-18)

This week's drugstore deals include FREE Colgate toothpaste, a FREE CFL light bulb and FREE Lypsl cold-sore medicine, along with some incredibly cheap deals on Nivea products, Speed Stick deodorant, Hall's and Luden's cough drops, M&M's candies, 7UP and Progresso soup.

And at Kroger this week, you can score FREE Colgate toothpaste, along with 20-cent toothbrushes and 25-cent Starkist tuna. There's also a new promo that will give you $3 off your order instantly plus a $2 off-your-next-order coupon. You must buy 10 participating products to get the discount and coupon.

Read on for all the very best deals this week at CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Kroger. Please post any good deals you discover as you shop this week. That way, we can all save more!

Freebie alert: Sample of Dove haircare product

Click here to snag a free sample of Dove's Leave-In Smoothing Cream for frizzy or unmanageable hair.

This sample comes via All You magazine.

Just to give you fair warning: The site was working very slowly.

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